Dean Winchester was dead. He had been for three months. If he had to be honest, Heaven was a lot more boring than he had expected. Just white walls and endless benches packed with bored, crying, frustrated, tired people. At least in doctor’s offices they gave you some gossip magazine to dull your mind. Here there was barely room for all the people on the benches, let alone for coffee tables with magazines.
On the first day he had walked for hours to just find an exit, or a window, or a door, or anything really. He never did though because an angel had “politely escorted” him back to his seat.
That was another thing. The angels were douchebags. Total. Utter. Douchebags. And not to mention condescending. It was only made worse by the fact that everyone else trapped in the holy Waiting Room adored them. They fawned and fainted every time one of the arrogant jerks showed up. One time some idiot started bowing to Raphael, and all the other sheep followed along. Dean was the only one left standing for miles. He glared at Raphael and defiantly crossed his arms. Like hell would he bow down to that asshole.
But he still wasn’t as bad as Zachariah. That guy just pushed Dean’s buttons. He was patronizing and egotistical. Dean would silently fume every time he remembered how Zachariah had welcomed him to Heaven’s Waiting Room and explained how heaven was currently full. When Zachariah had given Dean a number and told him to enjoy the wait, Dean punched him in the face. That didn’t go over too well and Dean was nearly kicked out. He was almost happy because in a way he’d prefer to be stuck in actual Hell than this horrible Waiting Room. At least in Hell they acknowledge that they’re purposely trying to torture you. Much to Dean’s dismay however, he had a reserved seat and Heaven could forgive his “brash actions on account of the stress he must be feeling having so recently left the earthly plane of life.” Not that Zachariah was really that hurt. He was an angel after all (plus he deserved it).
Michael was the worst of them all, though. Dean would give up his spot on line without a moment’s hesitation if he could just spit in the guy’s coffee. Unfortunately for Dean, he never came out of his office. But boy oh boy, did the stiffs around Heaven worship him. They had never seen the guy but they gossiped and narrated stories and legends about the “great and powerful” Michael. What a load of bullshit. Even the angels were affected. They almost never brought him up, but when they did his named was mentioned with the utmost respect and almost fear. Dean was convinced that it was the angels spreading fake stories about a fake angel in order to keep people occupied and restore their faith in the angels.
“I heard that once Michael single handedly defeated a horde of demons in order to save one innocent soul.”
“Oh yeah? Well I heard that he was the driving force behind defeating Lucifer and putting him in the Pit.”
The over the top stories made Dean roll his eyes.
“Louis told me, and this is true, that Michael is never around because he’s too busy leading his legion to fight against those rebellious angels.”
“You mean the Hell’s Angels?”
“Yeah. He’s so valiant trying to fight off those horrible demon angels in order to get more land for Heaven so we can get in.”
Dean seriously doubted that the Hell’s Angels even existed. He was sure that they were just as fake as Michael. The angels just refused to admit that they were too lazy and apathetic to make more room for the people in the Waiting Room. The entire thing just baffled him.
“Dean,” Rosalie, the elderly women who sat next to Dean said, “you’re going to ruin your pretty face with all those wrinkles if you keep frowning all the time.”
“We’re ghosts,” Dean pointed out. “Wrinkles are the last thing on my mind right now.”
Rosalie rolled her eyes, her usual reaction to Dean’s melodrama. Then her eyes lazily followed two figures walking down the hallway towards them.
“Welcome to Heaven.” An angel said, walking with a frightened looking young girl. Her eyes were wide with confusion as she tried to absorb her new situation. “I am the angel Uriel. Heaven currently has no vacancies. Here is your number. It may be a while, so I suggest getting to know your neighbors.”
Uriel and Dean glared at each other as they walked by.
“Uriel.” Dean growled.
“61911011034567.” Uriel said, and moved on.
“The name’s Dean Winchester.” Dean said. This painfully reminded Dean of the number that had ingrained itself into the skin of his chest, easily the worst tattoo he’d ever gotten (although that one with the pie was pretty bad). A similarly long number stamped on the other people’s chests identified each person awaiting a vacancy in Heaven, and each prayed that their number would be called.
Uriel tossed all this information at the girl like snowballs filled with ice. They hit her in the face but she didn’t absorb what was being told to her.
“W-wait. Please.” She said. She looked ready to puke. “I don’t understand. I can’t be dead. I was just walking to work.”
“That’s true, but you should have looked both ways while crossing the street.” Uriel said, emotionlessly. It seemed he was used to this routine. The girl started to hyperventilate. Uriel ignored that. “You’ll come to terms with it soon…”
The angels had told Dean on multiple occasions not to get up from his seat. He had never listened, and he wasn’t about to.
“Hi, name’s Dean Winchester.” He said, and offered his hand to the girl. She was still scared, but took it.
“Nice to meet you Martha. Where ya from?” Dean asked casually. Uriel’s eyes flared. Dean was sure they would soon start flaming. Let’s see if I can make him set his own head on fire.
“Um. Newsbury, Oklahoma.”
“Newsbury! Drove through there once. Great burger joint.”
“The Greasy Grill?” Martha asked.
“That’s the one.”
“They have the best onion rings.” She said with a slight smile at the memory. She looked past Dean as if there was someone there offering her onion rings dripping in oil and still hot enough to burn your tongue.
“61911011034567 sit down or I will have to use force.” Uriel threatened. His words suggested that the last thing he wanted to do was hurt Dean, but Dean could tell from his tone and the look in his eyes that he would like nothing more than to pumble Dean’s head between two of the Waiting Room chairs.
“Alright. Alright. Calm your halo. I’m sitting down.” Dean said, and reluctantly sat back down in his seat. Martha looked sad, but at least she seemed a little more at ease. Dean gave her a wave as Uriel shoved her down the hallway while listing the rules of Heaven’s Waiting Room, which Dean had made his personal mission to break every single one of.
Dean tried to take his mind off the unbearable waiting. There was nothing to do except listen to those bs stories and he certainly wasn’t going to do that. So his mind wandered to where it usually did. His brother Sam.
Dean didn’t remember a lot about his death, but he did remember the utter heartbreak on Sam’s face. That was etched in his mind for eternity. Dean had failed him. Yet he had still somehow gotten into Heaven. He tugged at the necklace Sam had given him years ago, and wondered where Sam was. He supposed it was good that he hadn’t seen Sam since he had died, but that didn’t mean much. The Waiting Room was eternal and it was all too likely that Sam was somewhere here and Dean would just never know. And he knew the angels would never let him leave his seat for long enough to find him, if he even could. Worse yet, Sam could be dead but not in Heaven. Dean refused to even consider that. Instead he imagined Sam happily back at Stanford. He had gone back after Dean’s death to pursue his dreams that Dean had so violently torn him away from. In that sense, Dean had done Sam a favor (if he hadn’t gotten him killed of course).
Images of Sammy studying in Stanford’s dusty libraries with his close-knit group of normal friends, laughing at a joke he had just made, were slammed out of Dean’s head when he heard an explosion a further down the Waiting Room hallway. He couldn’t see any smoke or fire from where he was. It must have been very far down.
Rosalie looked down the hallway.
“Do you think that could be the Hell’s Angels?” She asked. There was worry in her voice.
“Pfft. Nah. Those guys aren’t real.” Dean said. Then there was a second explosion, and for a moment Dean doubted himself.
“That sounded closer.” Rosalie said. Dean was about contradict her, when a flash of red thrust him from his chair.
Rosalie’s screams were smothered by the boom of the explosion. Dean lifted his pounding head. Even though he was dead, everything still hurt. The broken plaster of the walls dug into his ribs. Dean pushed rubble and broken chairs off himself. The swirling reds, yellows, and oranges of the fire reflected off the white wall to give the Waiting Room an eerie fiery glow. The lights flickered and dimmed. The black smoke obscured the gaping hole left in the wall. Dean rubbed ash off his face. If he was still alive, Dean wasn’t sure he would have survived that. Luckily he couldn’t die because he was already dead.
Then a silhouette swam through the misty sea of smoke and debris. Dean located Rosalie lying beside him. She clutched his arm fearfully and whispered, “It’s the Hell’s Angels.”
Dean didn’t say anything. He looked back at the wall of smoke. The figure took another step forward, and his very presence seemed to will the smoke out of his way. His foot was covered in armor which grew up the rest of his body and entwined his chest in shiny silver metal. The smoke didn’t affect it at all, and it shone like a beacon in the faint light. Dean followed the armor up to his face and froze when he locked eyes with the strange man. His blue eyes dug into his soul and threatened to tear it out. For the first time in weeks, Dean’s heart thumped. It surprised him almost as much as the armored man did. He was dead. His heart hadn’t beat since that night, but he couldn’t dismiss the pounding in his chest. The man held out his hand and Dean’s heart stopped.
“My name is Castiel. Angel of the Lord. Come with me if you want to get into Heaven.” He said.
Dean could feel Rosalie trembling next to him. Everything it the room was still except for the smoke slowly fading away.
“You can get us into Heaven?” Someone asked, peeking his head over a charred chair.
“Yes,” He answered. More angels appeared behind him. “But we must move quickly before the legion arrives.”
The angels dispersed down the hallway. Each angel tossed away rubble and broken tiles to dig out a person. They would cradle the person, and in the next instant disappear. An angel for each person. And for each angel that disappeared, another would rush in to care for the next person.
One angel reached his hand to her. Dean could only gape as she let go of his arm and took hold of the angel’s.The small pocket of warmth that Rosalie’s hand had created disappeared. Dean had gotten to know her well over the past three months. He knew everything about how she lived, her birth, childhood friends, awkward boyfriend experiences, marriage hardships, and everything about how she died. It had never occurred to Dean that her presence might disintegrate so unexpectedly, but her hand was gone now and it was too late to get it back.
A new, unfamiliar hand laid itself on Dean’s shoulder. He looked up to find that first angel, Castiel.
“Where did Rosalie go?” Dean asked.
“She should be at the safehouse by now.” The angel answered. “If we leave now we can make it there before the legion arrives.”
“What makes you think I’m going to let you winged monkeys zap me around?! I met you less than a minute ago,” Dean said.
“I do not have time to argue such miniscule complaints,” the angel said. “We need to go.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Dean said. The Waiting Room was the epitome of everything Dean hated, but it was still better than trusting some random angels he didn’t know. He didn’t trust the angels he did know. The angel standing before Dean squinted his eyes.
“Dean Winchester,” he began. This actually startled Dean who hadn’t heard an angel call him by his name before. “You can waste eternity away staying trapped here. Or you can trust me.”
The angel held out his hand. Dean raised his eyebrow.
“You think some sappy line about trust will change my mind?” He asked. The angel put his hand down and frowned.
“You are very troublesome.” Castiel said. Dean scowled. He was used to this treatment from angels, yet the tone Castiel used wasn’t frustrated but almost...observational.
The sounds of boots marching in rhythm echoed through the never-ending hallway. An angel rushed to Castiel and stammered in between breathes, “We’re out of time.”
Castiel frowned and gazed anxiously down the hallway. Then he turned back to his squadron, “Carry out Balthazar’s retreat plan.”
The angels immediately reacted to the command. Everywhere swords, bows and arrows, even a few axes, were unsheathed. Meanwhile angels crossed and zigzagged through each other until they had found their position in the phalanx. And suddenly Dean found himself as a solitary human in a sea of holy beings.
“What the hell? What’s going on?” He asked Castiel, who was apparently in charge. He turned to Dean.
“It’s Michael’s legion,” He explained. Then he called to an angel. She immediately stood at attention. “Anna, take Dean to the safehouse.”
Immediately, both Anna and Dean started protesting. Castiel stood his ground.
“You need me on the battlefield.” Anna pointed out.
“There’s no way I’m missing out on ‘Michael’ getting his ass handed to him.” Dean said, although he was all too aware that the fight would likely go the other way. “I’m already dead. It’s not like it can get any worse.”
“Trust me, it can,” Castiel said. His brow furrowed in thought. “Dean, you cannot see this fight. It may very well vaporize your soul.”
The conversation was interrupted by another angel.
“Castiel, they’ve cut off the exits with holy fire,” the angel said. Dean was shocked to hear worry in the angel’s voice. Angels rarely showed emotion, let alone revealed weakness. This must’ve been worse than he imagined. He looked to Castiel to see if he too was worried, but Castiel was already looking at him. They locked eyes for a second.
“What?” Dean asked. Castiel broke their eye contact and turned to Anna.
“Anna, I need to you take Dean and protect him while he extinguishes the fires,” He said, and then looked back at Dean. “Dean because you’re the only human here, we need you to extinguish the holy fire so that our squadron won’t be trapped.”
Anna and Dean were surprised by this. It was a risky job which could mean either the success or decimation of the force, and Castiel had given it to a complete stranger. Of course he knew of Dean Winchester’s reputation, but he had never actually met him before. Castiel just prayed that Anna would keep him safe. His worries were heightened as the marching drew nearer. He tried to estimate Michael’s numbers, but he didn’t like the results.
“Anna,” Castiel said.
“Don’t let him do anything stupid.”
“Hey!” Dean said. Anna handed him a sword, which was heavier in his hand than his usual knife.
“Hopefully you won’t need that.” Anna said. It had been a while since Dean had fought and he hoped he wasn’t rusty. Not to mention he had never fought an angel before. But boy oh boy, had he daydreamed about it while restlessly sitting in the Waiting Room.
Anna led Dean off into the smoke that curled from the hole in the wall. More armored angels started rushing past him and into the Waiting Room. Behind him, he heard the clash of metal on metal, and then explosions and yells which created a symphony of battle.
Dean wasn’t sure where they were. It looked too much like a gray office building to be Heaven, but he figured it must be. They rushed past cubicles, many of which had been tainted by the dark blast of the explosion.
“How do you know where the holy fire is?” Dean asked. All the long hallways looked exactly the same to him. Just bare, white doors as far as the eye could see.
“They’ll have cut off our entrance. It’s a weak point we were able to find in Heaven’s defenses. We left angels to protect it so we could have an escape, but they must have been compromised. At least we were able to get those souls across,” Anna said. She glanced at Dean. “Well, most of them.”
Dean rolled his eyes.
“Do you have any idea how to put out holy fire?” Dean asked.
“Same way you put out normal fire.” Anna said.
“That shouldn’t be too hard, then.”
“Putting out the fire isn’t the hard part, it’s getting around the angels guarding it. All you need to do is put out one small portion, and the entire circle will be cut off. But don’t let any angels catch you.”
“Got it. Put out fire. Angels bad. Still doesn’t seem that hard.”
They continued onwards, yet they didn’t run into any angels, Hell’s Angels or not. It seemed to put Anna even more on edge. When they finally got to the fire, Dean was very underwhelmed. It was barely more than a spark. Dean raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“This is the holy fire that you’re all worked up over?” He asked.
“It has a greater effect on us than you,” Anna said with a scowl. She kept glancing around nervously. “Would you just put it out? I’m going to secure the perimeter.”
Dean rolled his eyes. He stepped forward cautiously. Maybe he was missing something, but this seemed too easy. He raised his foot to stomp out the fire, when suddenly a shadow swept over the flames. He looked up to see one of Heaven’s angels. He was wearing gilded armor that encased him in a layer of silver protection. Dean’s face stared defiantly back at him from the armor.
“A human?” The angel asked, almost confused by the thought of a human not being attached to an angel leash. Then his face changed as he recognized Dean. “61911011034567.”
“Oh great. My reputation precedes me.” Dean said. He slashed the angel’s armor with his sword, but it did little more than dent his pristine armor. The dent did piss the angel off though.
The angel grabbed Dean by the collar, and kicked his sword away. Dean heard Anna unsheath her sword. The angel holding Dean didn’t seem to notice or care. She swung her sword but the angel was faster and easily blocked her swing. He laughed and repelled another of her attacks, while still using one hand to restrain Dean. Anna faked to the right but the angel predicted this and dodged then drove his sword through her tarnished armor that didn’t even slow him down and into her gut.
The sword glowed with a strange blue light. Dean’s eyes widened in shock. The angel dragged his sword upwards, widening the wound that was already being filled by blood. Anna couldn’t even gasp in shock or pain because all her air was escaping through the gaping hole in her lungs. The angel smiled as Anna tried to keep all her intestines inside her body.
Dean resisted the urge to puke. He kicked the angel, who turned angrily towards him. Dean headbutted him, and as he stumbled back, he grabbed the angel’s hair and pushed him face first into the holy fire. The angel’s screams of pain pierced the air. Dean pressed down harder as he convulsed violently and used all his force to push himself away but Dean pushed back.
Finally the screams stopped and only Anna’s gasps for air and the sounds of her drowning in her own blood could be heard. Then, starting from the fallen angel’s head and spreading outwards, the fire extinguished. The angel’s body sat unmoving on the ground.
Dean left the still body and ran to Anna. His eyes scanned her frantically. He had seen his share of injuries and knew which you could make it out of and which you couldn’t, and he didn’t like how this looked for Anna at all. He took her hand, which was slippery with a sheen of blood. Tears filled her crystalline eyes.
“Castiel!” Dean begged.
“Castiel!” He tried again. With each shout, Anna shuddered. Please. Please. Anna’s eyes locked onto something behind Dean. He tensed, knowing he wouldn’t be able to fight an angel, but a hand firmly rested on his shoulder. He breathed a sigh of relief. Words wouldn’t come to him. Castiel just took his hand and then touched a finger to Anna’s head.
“Castiel,” a new voice said. It was commanding and made Dean pause for a second. Then Castiel tightly squeezed Dean’s hand, and they were gone.
A flap of wings and suddenly they were in a warehouse. Makeshift cots held angels covered in bloody bandages and slings. Dean jumped in shock.
“Don’t be afraid. I teleported us,” Castiel explained. “Welcome to our base.”
Dean was glad to see that he still had all his limbs safely attached. He had seen and heard of angels teleporting, but had never actually experienced it himself. He felt a little queasy.
Then Castiel bent down and examined Anna. He whispered something to her, and her face melted into a blank yet relaxed gaze. Castiel then called one of the few angels who wasn’t injured. The angel pressed his fingers to Anna’s head and then gently lifted her up and carried her to the other side of the warehouse. They disappeared behind a curtain.
“She’s not going to make it,” Dean said. Castiel looked at him knowingly.
“Have faith, my friend.”
“Have faith?!” Dean cried, causing some of the more conscious angels to look at him. He lowered his voice. “For christ’s sake, her guts were falling out! It’s hopeless.”
“Then why did you call my name?” Castiel asked. Dean stumbled to find a reason, but he couldn’t think of an answer.
“You’ve been hurt,” Castiel noticed, and locked his eyes on a small burn on Dean’s hand.
“Huh. I didn’t even feel anything,” Dean said. Castiel placed his hands on Dean’s head.
“Uh, what are you doing?” Dean asked, crossing his eyes to see Castiel’s hand.
“I’m healing you,” he said. Sure enough, when he took his fingers away, Dean’s burn was completely healed. Not even a scar was visible.
“Healing humans is much simpler than healing angels,” Castiel explained when he saw Dean gazing around at the rows upon rows of wounded angels.
“Castiel, who was that voice we heard just before we left?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You must have imagined it.” Castiel answered.
“Don’t give me that crap! I know what I heard.” Dean said angrily. Castiel gazed at him for a moment. Then he took a breath and looked away.
“All the humans should have been safely transported to the safehouse by now,” Castiel said, changing the conversation. Dean rolled his eyes at his subtlety. “This is an angels only base, except of course for you. I’ll find you a place to stay until we can get you to the safe house.”
Castiel strode through the cots, pausing every now and then to say an encouraging word to an angel. Dean was bothered that his question had been shoved aside, but followed anyway.
Meanwhile, Dean took the opportunity to examine his new surroundings. They were pretty pitiful. There were no defenses or even any guards. If anyone should attack, it would be a bloodbath. Forgetting that, the warehouse itself was in pathetic shape. All paint had long ago been chipped off from the walls, and the metal insides were now exposed and covered in rust. The windows were broken and the floor had layers of grime.
“This is your base?” Dean asked.
“Yes. We’re constantly on the move. This is the best we could find, but it conceals us for now.”
“And where exactly are we?”
“Earth. Heaven is far too risky.”
Dean stopped walking. He had to be sure he heard that right.
“Earth?!” He asked. Castiel nodded.
“That is the name currently in use?” Castiel asked. “I was personally a fan of Terra but…”
“That can’t be. I’m dead! I can’t be back on Earth.” Dean said, trying to absorb what was happening.
“I can understand that this must be a lot for you to comprehend-” Castiel began, putting his hand on Dean’s shoulder.
“A lot to comprehend?!” Dean cried, and shoved Castiel’s hand off. “I’ve been dead for months, then I’m suddenly thrown into the middle of an angel civil war. Then I see an angel, an immortal angel, torn to pieces in front of me and I’m told to just believe that she’ll be alright. And then I’m teleported, against my will, to this crappy warehouse! And you refuse to answer my question about who that voice was! So yes, that IS a lot for me to comprehend.”
Dean was fuming. Castiel was stoic and stared emotionlessly, seeming to Dean more like a statue of an angel that protect patrons walking the graveled paths of a groomed garden of some art museum than an actual live angel.
“Dean, I think you need to get some rest.” Castiel said calming, breaking his statue-like composure.
“I’m dead. I’m always at rest!” Dean yelled, angry at Castiel and angry at the angels and angry at God for doing this to him. Castiel reached out his hand. Dean tried to shove him away, but he already had his fingers on his temples. His eyes became weights and he slouched forward. Castiel caught him as Dean gripped his arms tightly to avoid falling. Dean fought to avoid losing consciousness. He mumbled something inaudible as Castiel held him up.
Dean used the last of his strength to try to punch Castiel in the face. He barely raised his hand when he lost consciousness.